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Cheese Withdrawal

Updated: 04/03/2014 @ 2:39pm

My wife and I recently attended a dairy exposition, a bacchanal of cheese and ice cream and chocolate milk. And all for free!

I am not kidding. There were numerous dairy processors at the expo, each of them eager to hand out samples of their flavorsome foodstuffs. Anytime you felt a bit peckish, cheese or ice cream sandwiches or flavored milk was never more than a few steps away. It was your own darn fault if you went hungry at this event.

As if that weren’t enough, there was also a cheese-tasting competition. Prizes were offered, so you could essentially get paid for eating cheese. I didn’t participate as I didn’t feel qualified. On the other hand, I have a lifetime’s worth of experience eating -- and therefore judging -- coagulated milk proteins.

But there were more than just free dairy products at the expo. On display was the latest and greatest in dairy-related technology, including robots that can milk cows.

If you had told me 15 years ago that there was such a thing as robotic cow milkers, I would not have believed you. My reaction would have been, “Quit lying to me, you lying liar!” This would have been followed shortly by, “So . . . where do you suppose I could get one of those things?”

Recalling my dairy farming days, I asked a sales guy in a robotic milker booth what happens when a cow up and kicks a robot.

“For starters, the robot doesn’t stand there grasping its arm and cussing at the cow,” he replied.

That was scary! How did he know what took place nearly every day in my milking parlor?

Animal interface technology has advanced to the point where there are even automated calf feeders. How nifty! The only change I might suggest would be to program the feeder to emit a motherly “moo” whenever a calf nurses. You dairy technology companies can simply send me a check for that little nugget.

It boggled my mind to imagine how much difficulty and distress could have been avoided on my dairy farm with such technological wonders. Although my first purchase regarding this type of automation would have been a robot that could go to the banker and beg for . . . I mean, request a loan.

We overnighted in a hotel that had cleverly placed its bar in a large central courtyard. The noises emanating from the bar’s patrons zoomed straight up the atrium, through our door, and directly into our ear canals. Some guy had a laugh that was very similar to that of a donkey. We were serenaded by his braying long into the night.

My wife and I are accustomed to the profound quiet of the country, so all this hubbub made sleeping difficult. Whenever she hears a sound in the middle of the night, my wife will sit bolt upright and ask, “What on earth was THAT?” to which I might reply, “Not sure, but I think a mouse sneezed out by the chicken coop.”

“Well, I hope the cat catches it!” she’ll reply. “I can’t sleep with all that racket!”

This most recent hotel experience is an echo of my very first hotel stay, which took place 30-some years ago on our wedding night.    

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